Africa: NLC plans Tuesday-protest to press for new minimum wage

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…As Zimbabwean Teachers kick off strike for Dollar denominated wages, Tuesday***

To reassure the Federal government of its seriousness on the new national minimum wage, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has fine tuned an arrangement to hold a nationwide protest on Tuesday, over Government’s delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly.

The NLC General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson indicated this in a statement to newsmen in Abuja in Monday, saying it is in furtherance of the position of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC which earlier threatened to embark on a nationwide protest on January 8, if the Federal Government did not send the Tripartite Committee report on N30,000 minimum wage to the National Assembly.

The organised labour issued the threat following President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that a “high powered technical committee” would be set up to device ways to ensure that its implementation did not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.

 Ozo-Eson recalled that the National Executive Council of NLC met on December 17 and approved a nationwide mobilisation of workers and allies protest.

“That is, if by Dec. 31, 2018, the bill on the National Minimum Wage has yet to be sent to the National Assembly to be passed as an act of parliament.

“We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike.

“It is on record that each time we had cause to embark on a national strike, we say so publicly without any equivocation.

‘‘We still don’t understand where the story about a strike commencing tomorrow came from,” he said, noting that all state councils, affiliate unions and the civil society organisations have been fully informed and mobilised to ensure the success of Tuesday’s mass protests in all the states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He added that when a date was decided for the commencement of a strike subsequently, we would inform the public appropriately. 

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean teachers will commence strike on Tuesday to press for U.S. dollar-denominated salaries following the failure of talks with the government.

Union officials said on Monday that the talks failed to bring a breakthrough in negotiation over the issue.
This had been putting pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to contain a runaway currency crisis.
Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s financial system into disarray, threatening social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

With not enough hard currency to back up funds showing in bank accounts, the value of electronic money has plummeted, prompting businesses and civil servants to demand payment in U.S. dollars they can withdraw.

Just over four months into Mnangagwa’s contested presidency, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA) said its members would strike as spiraling inflation has left them unable to buy basic goods and fuel that are in short supply.

Government doctors have been on strike for more than a month over the same issue.

ZIMTA president, Richard Gundani, said that a meeting between public sector unions and acting Labour, Minister Moyo only resolved to re-start talks, but teachers would not report for duty from Tuesday.

“We were very frank to each other and all the unions agreed that workers are incapacitated and we provided sufficient justification that they are unable to work,” Gundani said.

“ZIMTA’s declaration of incapacitation stands and teachers will not go to work.”
Moyo did not immediately answer calls to his mobile phone.
The government employs more than 100,000 teachers and ZIMTA has 44,000 members.

On Monday police arrested and later released nine members of the smaller Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, who were picketing at a park in central Harare, their lawyer said.
There was a heavy presence of police with water cannon elsewhere in the capital.

As doctors continue their strike, Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have been left short of drugs and reliant on patients to buy them.

Pharmacies have stopped accepting insurance policies for purchases and demand payment in dollars.

Zimbabwe is also struggling with acute shortages of fuel, forcing motorists to queue for hours.
Civil servant salaries accounted for 90 per cent of the budget in 2018 but Mnangagwa’s government has made an ambitious pledge to cut this to 70 per cent in 2019 as part of reforms aimed at boosting growth and investment.

Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017 after Mugabe was forced to resign following an army coup.
He was declared president in August 2018 after a presidential vote that his main opponent says he won fraudulently.